Congress Passes Reconciled Farm Bill, Does Not Include Previously-Proposed SNAP Modifications

After months of negotiations, U.S. Congress passed this week an expansive $867 billion farm bill. H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, passed the House on a 369-47 vote and the Senate on a 87-13 vote; the measure now heads to President Donald Trump where he is largely expected to sign the measure into law.

Recall, both the Senate and House passed their own versions of the farm bill in June. The House’s version passed the chamber on a razon-thin margin and included sweeping overhauls of nutrition programs that would shift Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and SNAP-Education (SNAP-Ed) funding from state and local agencies to state land grant universities. The House’s initial measure also increased the age for work requirements and made other significant modifications to eligibility. The Senate’s version of the farm bill passed in June did not include major modifications to the nutrition title provisions that govern SNAP and SNAP-Ed.

Congress allowed the current farm bill to lapse on September 30 after lawmakers could not come to a consensus on changes to SNAP provisions. As a result of the significant differences in the versions passed by both the Senate and House, a conference committee was convened to reconcile the two measures and set forth a final version of the measure. Despite allowing the current measure to lapse, lawmakers eyed the end of December as their hard deadline to pass the farm bill as a majority of the programs and funding included in the legislation does not expire until the end of the month.

The final version of the measure passed this week includes a vast array of agriculture-related provisions, farm subsidies, and funding authorization for nutrition programs over the next five years. While the measure did not include stronger work requirements for and eligibility modifications to SNAP, the measure does include provisions for the creation of an interstate data system to prevent multiple states from issuing simultaneously SNAP benefits to the same individual.